Archive for August, 2013
Sometimes synchronicity of seemingly unrelated events feels like it’s biting you on the ass (like when you get an increase in property taxes, health care premiums, and the price of your favorite beer, all in the same week). But other times, synchronicity is amicable, gently applying a sort of lifestyle deep tissue massage to your spiritual buttocks.
I think a recent congruence of wine-related events in my life falls into the latter (butt-massaging) category. They involve 1) the Publix supermarket chain, 2) thinking about low-acid wine grape varieties, 3) South Africa, and 4) racial tolerance.
I know what you’re thinking… how’s he gonna get himself out of this one? Have some faith, people!
For a little while now, I’ve been quietly (not a normal operating mode for me, I know) penning the In Focus section for Publix Grape Magazine (those of you living in much of the Southern U.S. can sign up for Grape, for free, by the way). I love the gig, because they ask me to take complex wine topics like Oak or Yeasts and make them accessible (and hopefully edu-taining) to wine laypeople (also known as normal people who don’t find obsessing over detailed winemaking topics to be as geektastic as we do). The Fall edition of Grape is hitting publication now, and in it I write about the fascinating (to us geeks, I mean) world of… wait for iiiiit… wine acids!
Hello? Anyone still there?!??…
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Friuli winemaker Fulvio Bressan’s racially-charged political comments about Cécile Kyenge, Italy’s first African-Italian government minister (you can read the translation if you’re up for it, but fair warning: it will most likely disgust you) just caused a large crap-storm in the wine world.
In my view, only an idiot (it takes a lot of stupid to hate based on race, people) would not find Bressan’s original statement offensive.
In the comments section of Jeremy Parzen’s excellent Do Bianchi blog, there is a follow up from Bressan offering an unapologetic rant in defense of his original (indefensible) statement. I have a touchy spot (ok, a huge, ugly, flaming, red-hot-molten-lava spot) for this type of racially-motivated hate talk, particularly when people of African descent are the targets, as I have a niece and a nephew who are beautiful, intelligent, well-rounded, gentle, and amazing young people, who also happen to be black.
So having this kind of thing happen within the wine world hit a little too close to home for me, and I responded to Bressan directly on Do Bianchi:
Nothing in any of your unapologetic, post-facto rants justifies the fact that you could easily have made your politically-motivated comment without a single one of the racially-charged epithets you decided to include (presumably for emphasis but clearly without regard to what reasonable people would find offensive or hurtful). The right thing to do – the ballsy, mature, adult thing to do – would be to issue a formal apology immediately.
I, of course, have not been the only one to ask Bressan to apologize (far from it). To my great surprise, Bressan actually did so… sort of…
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- 07 A. Christmann Konigsbacher Idig Riesling Grosses Gewachs (Pfalz): Ain't nothin' like it when you're reachin' for stars & U grab 1. $65 A- >>find this wine<<
- 11 Dr. Loosen Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Grosses Gewachs (Mosel): Textbook Mosel flowers & spices, but with chest-puffing peaches. $31 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 11 Donnhoff Felsenberg Riesling Grosses Gewachs (Nahe): An insane tangerine throwing mineral rocks, & he has bit of a violent streak. $44 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 12 Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Scharzhofberger Riesling Kabinett (Mosel): Dancing a zesty tongue jig to a lovely, vibrant palate tune. $20 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 11 Schloss Johannisberg Silberlack Riesling Erstes Gewachs (Rheingau): That structured, tropical, austere outfit fits Rheingau to a T $55 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 11 S.A. Prum Graacher Himmelreich Riesing Spatlese (Mosel): Generous but a little pushy, too; so here's some quince in YO FACE! $32 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 12 Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett (Mosel): Flowers that want to give you a flinty kiss on the way out. $25 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 05 Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese (Mosel): Essentially why Mosel sweet wines kick booty. $25 A- >>find this wine<<
- 10 Weingut Markus Huber Riesling Berg (Traisental): Of course it got pithy & smoky in here, fool! You think we're messing around?!?? $50 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 11 Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese (Mosel): Treads softly & carries a big… stone basket full of apples. $42 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 11 Donnhoff Niederhauser Hermannshohle Riesling Auslese (Nahe): Doesn't hand around long enough but sooo captivating while it's there $70 A- >>find this wine<<
- 12 Frankland Estate Poison Hill Vineyard Riesling (Frankland River): Get ready for focus; close your eyes & you could be in Rheingau. $30 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 11 Robert Weil Kiedrich Grafenberg Riesling Spatlese (Rheingau): Quince superhero sporting sweet lime & toast repulsor ray technology $53 A- >>find this wine<<
- 07 Robert Weil Kiedrich Grafenberg Riesling Auslese (Rheingau): Nervy apricot, driving a slate car, full tank & the engine's still on $80 A- >>find this wine<<
- 04 Robert Weil Kiedrich Grafenberg Riesling Beerenauslese (Rheingau): Honey & apricots skipping flint & dancing on lemon peel. Wow. $100 A >>find this wine<<
- 08 A. Christmann Idig Grosse Lage Riesling Trocken (Pfalz): Vibrancy/power combo that will elegantly arm wrestle any white wine takers $70 A >>find this wine<<
- 11 A. Christmann Gimmeldinger Riesling (Pfalz): Acid on a steelier display than a piece of modern austere metallurgy artwork. $18 A- >>find this wine<<
- 12 A. Christmann Riesling (Pfalz): Fossilized dinosaur remains aren't this bone dry; but probably aren't as tasty & refined, either. $16 B+ >>find this wine<<
Excruciating pain has a way of giving you additional focus.
I’m learning this the hard way, courtesy of a degenerated L5-S1 lumbar disk which is causing a bulge that my spinal cord finds disagreeable (“disagreeable” as in “excruciating sciatica that is more painful than when I broke a bone in my hand and is now at the point of nearly debilitating me”).
I mention this as framing only, because when you’re on the road (in this case, a paying gig handling social media ambassador duties for the 2013 Chardonnay Symposium) dealing with this kind of pain, it takes something special for you to bother expending the energy required to really focus on it. You’ve got to seriously want it, and it has to be seriously worth it.
That’s the best way I can sum up my time tasting a handful of the twenty nine (!) different wines offered by Foxen’s vintner Dick Doré and winemaker Bill Wathen during a brief trek through Santa Maria a few weeks ago; that they’re worth your focus.
Doré was scruffily unshaven (not judging – so was I!), down to earth and amicable, touring me with the occasional waves of his long and lanky arms through their new winery that sites a short distance down the road from the barn in which Foxen had been making wine for about twenty-five years. Foxen is one of those unassuming producers that sits under the radar, but gets a knowning nod when discussed among wine geeks. I got the impression from Doré that they like it that way, and that they’ve yet to fully grow into the skin of a three-year-old facility that would be modest by most California Disneyworld-like tasting room standards…
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